Warriors Stun Cavaliers in Game 3
Golden State Finishes Game On 11-0 Run
The Warriors took a commanding 3-0 series lead in the NBA Finals after storming back in the final minutes to beat the Cavaliers 118-113 in Game 3 on Wednesday night. Trailing 113-107 with just over three minutes remaining, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for the final 11 points of the contest to steal the victory for Golden State. Durant and Klay Thompson paced the Warriors with 31 and 30 points, respectively, while Curry added 26, as that trio combined for all but one of Golden State’s 16 three-pointers in the game. With the win, the Warriors remain undefeated in postseason play and now possess the longest postseason winning streak in the history of the four major American sports.
When they needed him most, Kevin Durant came through in the clutch. With the game hanging in the balance, he delivered the biggest shot of his career and a momentous comeback victory to Golden State that leaves them one win away from their second title in three years.
The pace was frantic from the start, as the teams combined for 70 points in the opening frame. After J.R. Smith followed Kyrie Irving’s game-opening layup with a three-pointer, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant connected on back-to-back three-pointers to give the Warriors their first lead of the night. Durant would add another trey 52 seconds later to put the Dubs up 9-7, but Smith and LeBron James answered right back with two-straight threes for the Cavs to reclaim a slight advantage. That latter shot began a stretch in which James would account for nine of Cleveland’s next 11 points, while Thompson kept pace by scoring 11-straight Warriors points, a sequence that included three more three-pointers. Andre Iguodala would get in on the action with a three-pointer of his own to put Golden State in front 27-23 with 4:20 left in the first quarter, but James and Irving combined for the next six points in the contest before Shaun Livingston knotted the score at 29-29 with 2:15 remaining. After two Iman Shumpert free throws, the Warriors then closed the quarter on a 10-0 run ignited by two Stephen Curry three-pointers. After setting a Finals record with 18 threes in Game 2, Golden State would total nine treys in the first quarter of Game 3 to establish yet another Finals record. Golden State's 13 first-quarter assists also matched the franchise playoff record for assists in a quarter.
Cleveland flipped the script to begin the second quarter, opening the frame on an 8-0 burst to tie the score at 39-39 one minute into it. Thompson converted a layup on the ensuing possession, though, and the Warriors would go on to remain in the lead for the duration of the half. James would provide the only field goal in a four-minute span of the quarter to pull the Cavs within one, but Curry ended Golden State’s drought with another three-pointer to rebuild a two-basket cushion. Irving scored on a layup 18 seconds later, however, and Cleveland’s All-Star guard would begin to get rolling from there. He’d add another layup 28 seconds later to cut the deficit to two, and would do so once more at the 1:17 mark to close within 61-59. Thompson and Curry then combined for back-to-back three-pointers to match the Warriors’ largest lead of the night before Irving converted yet another layup at the quarter buzzer to send the game into halftime with Golden State leading 67-61.
The Warriors had outscored the Cavaliers by double-digits in the third quarter of each of the first two games of the series, but it would be a different story in Game 3. After Draymond Green opened the scoring with a dunk, Irving and Smith knocked down consecutive three-pointers to begin an 11-0 Cleveland run that would give the Cavaliers their first second-half lead of the series. The two sides would then trade scores for much of the next seven minutes, with neither team able to generate more than a single basket advantage until Irving followed James’ dunk with two-straight scores to put the Cavs up 94-87 with 1:13 remaining in the third frame. That would prove to be their largest lead of the entire night, however, as Patrick McCaw would close out the scoring with two free throws to make it a five-point game heading into the fourth and final quarter.
Cleveland would remain in front for the vast majority of the fourth quarter, but not when it mattered most. Thompson scored 57 seconds into the frame to make it a single-possession game, but Kyle Korver’s three-pointer at the 9:22 mark would rebuild the Cavs’ seven-point advantage. Slowly but surely, however, Golden State would chip away at the deficit and leave themselves in a position to win the game in the final minutes. After Irving’s two free throws that put Cleveland up 102-95 with 8:52 left to play, Durant would account for the Warriors’ next seven points to pull the Dubs within 104-102 on his three-pointer with 6:07 remaining. Twice in the ensuing three minutes, the Cavaliers would build a six-point cushion and would take a 113-107 lead on Smith’s three-pointer with 3:09 left to play. Those, however, would prove to be Cleveland’s final points of the night, as Golden State clamped down on defense from that point on and looked to their stars to bring them all the way back.
Curry’s lay-in at the 2:18 mark cut the deficit to four, and Durant’s runner just over a minute later made it a two-point game with 1:15 left to play. Following a Cleveland timeout, Korver missed a corner three-pointer, and Durant corralled the ensuing rebound before racing back up the court. Six seconds later, with James’ hand in his face, Durant splashed home Golden State’s final three-pointer of the game to give the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish.
The Cavaliers called another timeout, but Irving missed a three-pointer and the Dubs corralled the rebound, forcing Cleveland to foul and send Durant to the line. Calm and collected, Durant converted both resulting free throws to give Golden State a three-point advantage with 12 seconds left to play. Then, following another timeout, Andre Iguodala stripped the ball from James in the corner, and Curry gathered the loose ball before being fouled and sent to the line. On cue, Curry then delivered two more clutch free throws to close out the scoring of Golden State’s enthralling comeback 118-113 victory.
With the win, the Warriors take a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals and remain unbeaten in postseason play. Their current 15-game playoff winning streak is the longest such streak in the history of the four major American sports. Golden State now sits one victory away from claiming the league title, which they’ll attempt to accomplish when the two sides meet again in Cleveland for Game 4 on Friday.